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QTMAGAZINE AUTUMN 2015 QT.CO.NZ
Eichardt’s Hotel in Queenstown was
one of the town’s first hotels developed
during the 1860s gold rush. Today it
has been transformed into a quality
boutique hotel with a reputation for
its world class accommodation, food
and wine. Penny Simpson reports.
In its prime position on Queenstown’s waterfront
Eichardt’s has a nostalgic charm which General
Manager Chris McIntosh says visitors love.
“The atmosphere is intimate and welcoming and
easy to relax and enjoy. People feel at home here and
because of the size of the hotel we know our guests by
name and can provide them with a personal level of
service which they appreciate.”
The elegant accommodation is located upstairs while
downstairs the chic bar has a comfortable array of
stylish fireside tables and leather seating. The bar is
open to the public and is a popular locals’ haunt.
Breakfast and lunch are served in the bar or in the
upstairs parlour for guests staying in one of the five
lavishly attired suites. New Year’s Eve celebrations to
welcome in 2012 will be held in the parlour overlooking
the revelries in downtown Queenstown.
Executive Chef Gwen Harvie, who has worked in
Michelin-starred and multi-award-winning restaurants
in New Zealand and overseas, focuses on seasonal
flavours in her distinctive menus.
“We source fresh produce as much as possible and
the menu does change throughout each season. There
is a nice balance of textural, flavoursome food that’s
appealing to most people.”
Chicken and fresh asparagus risotto, Hereford beef
salad, beetroot, walnut and blue cheese salad and
Eichardt’s famous signature dish, the seafood chowder
are just some of the superb dishes currently on the
From 4pm – 10pm a selection of appetising Spanish-
style tapas are served.
“The tapas are very popular,” says Chris,” and a nice
way to start off an evening before dinner or with a
group of friends, especially around the fire in winter.
Our sommelier is extremely knowledgeable and will
help select fine wines to match the dishes.”
The Eichardt’s location is ideal for al fresco drinking
and eating and this summer the hospitality moves
outside to a new courtyard alongside the hotel’s
contemporary glass pavilion entrance way.
This newly paved area is smartly edged with boxed
hedging and glass panels providing a magnificent
outlook over Lake Wakatipu.
Drinks, lunch and tapas are served in the courtyard
along with a special afternoon tea on Sundays
appealing to anyone partial to ‘high tea.’
“The ‘Garden Party’ afternoon tea is a lovely way to
enjoy a summer’s day and focuses on the ritual of ‘tea
taking.’ Gwen and her team of chefs have created
a delightful range of beautiful petit fours, served on
tiered cake stands and guests can choose tea or a
glass of champagne to accompany the food,” says
When Albert Eichardt played host to Queenstown’s
early tourists in the 1870s, little would he realise that
almost 150 years later his hotel would still be a thriving
enterprise, attracting tourists from all over the world
to sample the renowned Eichardt’s hospitality.
Eichardt’s Nostalgic charm
The latest addition to Arrowtown’s artiest, partiest,
prettiest alley is the colourful Mexican restaurant,
Agave. Owned by the same foodie family who opened
the superb Saffron in 1999 and the naughty, cosy Blue
Door bar, Agave is already wowing locals and visitors
with its bright and exciting modern Mexican flavours.
Owners, Pete Gawron and Mel Hill, are an Arrowtown
institution and in traditional style Agave’s launch
party was a real fiesta - the alley was jammed with
margarita sipping, quesadilla munching, fun loving
Saffron hadn’t been open long before it made the
Conde Nast list of the world’s 50 top restaurants. Then
the Blue Door was launched, in an original grocery
storeroom opposite, to provide somewhere cosy to
enjoy a pre or postprandial tipple.
But man cannot live on top shelf cocktails and top
notch cuisine alone, especially if the man in question
has a family. Time for a family-friendly restaurant –
the result, a great little Italian place called Pesto,
tucked in behind Saffron.
Pete is always listening to what customers want and
agrees that Italian cuisine isn’t easy for diners looking
for gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian options.
Enter Brian Sites, an American chef friend who
intrigued Pete with tales of tacos, tortillas and sizzling
fajitas. Bouncy bright salads and fresh fish ceviche
sounded the perfect menu and earlier this year Pesto
had a change of nationality and became Agave.
This Australian born chef is never more enthusiastic
than when he’s talking about food. He’s a passionate
vegetable gardener, cultivates truffles and travels the
world seeking new ideas. His book, of course called
Saffron, is a foodie bible. While I’m interviewing
him, he’s chopping and chatting and keeping an eye
on Mexican Tony who’s rubbing a marinade into
pork strips for fajitas. “Try it!”says Pete, giving me a
spoonful of the herby, green sauce - Tomatillo - sharp
and so tasty.
It’s a real family affair - Pete’s the chef, Mel does all
the front of house. Daughter Chelsea has the same
family creative gene inventing new and marvellous
cocktails, while Tegan is studying in Melbourne but
helping out in uni holidays. Mel’s mother, Jonquil,
adds to the mix her greenest of green fingers, keeping
the alley looking lush and lovely with brilliant window
boxes and planters. When the idea of a Mexican
restaurant was floated, young friends put their hands
up to create the brilliant feature murals - Diego Rivera,
For a fun and affordable family night out, the menu
at Agave is perfect - crispy blue cod and salad tucked
into a taco, or the spit and drama of a sizzling, smokey
hotplate of prawn fajitas. Sparkly fresh salads and
the margarita of the day make for exciting choosing.
Leave room for pudding - the churros are heaven -
dusted with cinnamon and served with ice-cream.
The fussiest children, the pickiest adults, the
foodiest foodies are all endorsing Agave as yet
another example of the Arrowtown couples’ famous
hospitality and Pete’s extraordinary ability with food.
BY MIRANDA SPARY
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